The Halloween Candy Theory.

It’s Saturday, November 9th- over a week from Halloween 2013.

If during every other week at work you can gain the Corporate 15, the day after Halloween, you can gain the Corporate 20.

People bring their leftover candy and leave it to tempt you in order to overcome their lack of self control.

As of yesterday afternoon, most of the candy was gone. The Starbursts, Skittles, and Snickers had all been snatched up.

Key word: MOST.

There is still a sad bowl of candy sitting on the table in the kitchen. It contains countless jaw breakers and gobs of lollipops of a brand I’ve never heard of. It’s as if that candy was never touched.

When it comes to Halloween candy, you have two choices:

1)Buy brand name candy that everyone will love

2)Buy off brand candy that no one will eat

If you choose option 1, you will pay for those brand names and have 0 leftovers. If you choose option 2, your wallet will thank you, but at the end of the night, it will just be you and that bowl of candy. So did you really save any money? The candy you purchased will actually go to waste, as no one chose to eat it.

Often times, people will live their lives like option number 2. They cheat themselves…they fill up on cheap worldly highs, which in turn deprives themselves of true joy, then wonder why they’re empty inside.

So, don’t be tempted by that sour gumball surprise. Choose the real deal and choose joy.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Matters of the Heart: The Great Gatsby and other Cogitation.

“No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

It’s mid April, which means that it is less than a month until the highly anticipated film, The Great Gatsby, hits the big screen. The first time I read this book, I was a sophomore at Garland High School. I recently re-read my high school copy, which was rather intriguing, as it had all my annotations from my analysis paper I wrote. If there’s one thing I learned in high school, it was how to write an analysis essay. (Thank you International Baccalaureate program!) I enjoyed the book the first time around, but reading it for pleasure made me appreciate it even more.

Re-reading it, I noticed this eloquent quote regarding Mr. Gatsby:

“His brown, hardening body lived naturally through the half fierce, half lazy work of the bracing days. He knew women early and since they spoiled him he became contemptuous of them, of young virgins because they were ignorant, of the others because they were hysterical about things which in his overwhelming self-absorption he took for granted.

But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the washstand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangles clothes upon the floor, Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination  they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.”

If those paragraphs were food, they’d be a three course meal. Fitzgerald always has a way of making me want to drink in his words.

For those of you who have never read the Great Gatsby, pick up a copy; it’s an easy and enjoyable read. Gatsby is a man who has it all. Well, on the outside he has it all. It’s funny how Fitzgerald refers to Gatsby’s heart as being in a “constant and turbulent riot”, because most people of today’s world have that same issue.

You hear everyone say phrases like “go where your heart takes you”, “what does your heart say?”, “follow your heart”, but God doesn’t say that.

Look at Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

or Mark 7:21-23 “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

or even Ecclesiastes 9:3 “This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.”

Proverbs 27:19

Point being, don’t trust your heart, trust God. The heart will lead you astray, God will not. The heart is often connected to human dreams and desires, which at the end of the day are nothing in comparison to God’s plan for us. Gatsby let his heart grow wicked and sick and focused on worldly gain that eventually caused his demise. His body may have died, but his soul was dead long before he was killed.  (oops. sorry if you haven’t read the book…). Focus your mind and thoughts on heaven and you’ll keep on living even after you die.

“All I kept thinking about, over and over, was ‘You can’t live forever; you can’t live forever.”
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

Whole Heartedly.

I used to regularly post recent recipes I had tried and liked…Because I haven’t done one of these in a very long time, you probably thought I quit eating. Not the case. I still abide by the rule of “life is too short to eat bad food.”

My most recent baking obsession has been with whole wheat flour. I prefer wheat bread over white bread any day, so I thought ‘why not make my baked goods a little better for me?’ Notice, I didn’t say taste healthier…here’s some recipes I’ve tried and loved, that haven’t sacrificed flavor for health. I mean if you’re trying to be super healthy, you really don’t want a cookie anyway. Don’t worry; I’ll eat what you don’t.

Whole Wheat chocolate chip cookies.

WWCCC

These were adapted from my friend Kim. She is a pole vaulter for Baylor, so she always does the healthy alternative for food. She’s a beast! Seriously though, don’t let the whole wheat fool you. I brought these to work and they were gone in a flash.

  • 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsps Baking Soda
  • 2 cups butter, softned
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 (3.4 oz) pkgs intant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 4 cups chocolate chips (I like mixing milk, semi sweet, and dark)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift flour and baking soda and sit aside

In large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in pudding mix until blended. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Blend in flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. 

Create 1 inch balls of dough and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes; edges should be golden brown.

Peanut butter whole wheat muffins with dark chocolate chunks.

I got this recipe from a blog called, How Sweet it Is. Most of it I kept the same, except I used regular Jif Peanutbutter, and I mixed semi sweet and dark chocolate chips. These are so yummy! Not only are they whole wheat, but they contain peanut butter, greek yogurt, less than a cup of sugar, and only 1 stick of butter!

WWCCC

Whole wheat pumpkin bread with chocolate chips.

I love the flavor of pumpkin, but feel that it is so overdone in the fall. This is something different, yet tasty that everyone will love!

WWPB

  • 1 and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next, in a medium sized bowl combine the dry ingredients, and in a large bowl combine the wet ingredients.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, making sure it is well blended. Mix in your chocolate chips. Once everything is mixed together, line a bread pan with parchment paper, and pour the batter into the pan.

Cook for 50-60 minutes.

Whole Wheat, no yeast Pizza Dough. 

Who doesn’t love pizza? Who doesn’t love a pizza that’s kind of good for you?!

WWPizza

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 tsp. baking powder (if using baking soda use half and omit salt)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 3/4 to 1 c. water

 Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix dry ingredients. add 3/4 cup water and oil. Stir until it forms a ball. If dough is stiff, add more water.The dough will be soft, not sticky. Knead on a floured surface for 3-4 minutes.Add sauce and desired toppings.Bake for 15-25 minutes.

Whole Wheat Pasta.

This is an effortless switch. Whenever making spaghetti at home, just buy whole wheat noodles. I do this for all the pastas I make. This dish below is actually an avocado pasta recipe I got from the Flourishing Foodie. If you can’t resist the goodness of avocados, then this dish is definitely for you!

WWavacado

If baking and cooking with whole wheat or grains is just too much of a lifestyle switch, then start out with something easy. Goldfish and Cheezits both offer a whole grain option. Wheat Thins have a multi-grain version,and my personal favorite, Lance, sells whole grain butter crackers.

I’ll never be one of those girls claiming to always be on a diet and never eating much. The fact of the matter is, is that I like chocolate and cheeseburgers. However, I feel that God didn’t put us on the earth to be gluttonous, so I try to be healthy where I can.

Bon appetit!

“It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.” Proverbs 25:27

No Fear.

No, I’m not referring the once popular clothing brand  that launched in 1989.

I’ve found that I learn the most when I look for lessons from God in my regular, everyday life. I’m not Moses, therefore I don’t get burning bushes; I feel that this is His way of speaking to me.

This past November, I was driving home from Waco for Thanksgiving, when the unthinkable happened. I wrecked my car on I-75 only 30 minutes from home in Garland. The traffic was unpredictable, ( as it most of the time it is) and I was going the speed of traffic in the fast lane left lane. All of a sudden red brake lights came on (only in my lane as luck would have it) and I tried to bring my Saturn Vue to a halt. My brakes locked and I swerved into the center lane, back into my lane, then ended up straight into the concrete barrier, perpendicular to the oncoming traffic. My airbag imploded, my front left end was crumpled under the car, and there was a viscous black substance leaking from my engine. By the grace of God I was the only car involved in the accident and came out of it with some marks on my arms from the airbag and a little harry potter-esque scratch on my forehead.

I immediantly dialed 911 then hit END and called my dad instead. Dad> 911 any day. A nice man named Patrick got out of his car (amid multiple lanes of traffic mind you) and calmed me down. He then helped me get my car to the  right shoulder, right after the Colorado exit on Central Expressway. I graciously thanked him as he left; he said he had a younger sister and he couldn’t imagine her dealing with this on her own, so he knew he had to stop. My mom says he was my angel. By this time, someone had called 911 and there were about 5 patrol cars stopped, shortly followed by a firetruck and ambulance. Oh. And a radio announcement saying a wreck near the Dallas zoo had inhibited traffic flow. Not my idea of radio stardom. (but hey, I’ve been on 99.5 the wolf before at Susan G. Komen’s Race for the cure, so I don’t have to claim this wreck as my infamous start of stardom).  The policemen all had their dip in and were anything but sympathetic…they jokingly asked if I was texting (which I wasn’t) and laughed and said I was just trying to get a new car.  I had made it since I turned 16  without getting a wreck and now this had to ruin my squeaky clean record.

My Vue ended up being totaled and after a month of driving a rental car instead of an SUV, I’m got back to my soccermom self (my new Sorento seats 7!) .Not that I was careless before, but now when I drive, it’s different.  It sends shivers up my spine if I’m in someone’s blind spot. I cringe when I see a foolish driver swerving from lane to lane like a lunatic who thinks thinks it’s a good idea to be reckless in traffic more dense than your Grandma’s fruit cake. I can still hear my car crunching against the concrete and the pop of the airbag as I lost control. In a sense, my eyes have been opened.

Kind of like the first time you experience heartbreak and you realize people will let you down.

Kind of like when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were exposed to sin.

You’re probably wondering what in tarnation my wreck story has to do with Adam and Eve. Don’t worry; I’ll connect the dots.

The thing about us as humans, is that  the world has caused us to feel immune to sin…that it really isn’t that bad…that we can be good later…when really we should be similar to how I feel about driving. I used to love the open road, but my experiences have made me realize the distressing amount of danger that is present. In the same way, we as Christians used to love sin, but through Jesus, our eyes were opened. We don’t have to be fearful, because through Jesus we have no fear in death or sin; however,  we should be cautious  of what we involve ourselves in and who we surround ourselves with.  We should shutter at the thought of drifting from where we once so proudly stood in Jesus.  Christians are given freedom from  our wicked ways and so often we meander back down the path of sin, and are enslaved once more.

Remember that as Christians:

We receive God’s abundant grace.

“…But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,  so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21

We must live in the world, but not be of it.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

We must keep Christ at the center of our lives so we can carry out His plan.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

There’s no reason you shouldn’t be joyful today- you’re alive and FREE!

Thoughts of 2013.

We’re a little over 1 week into 2013. Have you already broken your NY Resolution? What’s your motivation?

Too many times I have seen people fail because their reason for action wasn’t on target.

“I’m going to get fit for my boyfriend.”

“I’m going to get that position to help my personal status and gain recognition.”

“I’ll help him study so I can get study hours done.”

“I’ll be her friend so I can make a move on her brother.”

At some point in time, we’re all prone to doing something with an ulterior motive. Personal gain isn’t a bad thing, but it can be if that is your main focus.

I’ve seen a myriad of people give something their all, but be completely heart broken when they didn’t get said position or reach a certain goal. It interests me, because these same situations 9/10 deal with someone whose heart wasn’t in the right spot. God is very clear about how was should go about our earthly deeds. Colossions 3:23 states

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

He also says in Proverbs 16:9

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

You see, I feel like these people (myself included from time to time) forget how to truly live life. First and foremost, we need to do all things for the glory of God. Second of all, if we know in our hearts that God’s plan is the best, it makes it easier to let go or begin to fathom why certain things occur and some things don’t.

Last year, over Sprinkles cupcakes, my friend Holly and I embarked on this subject. We decided it’s a lot easier to live life with the mindset of having open hands. This allows anything to come into your life, but it also allows God to take away when the need be…to prepare you for something greater. It’s only human nature to want to fist our hands to try to keep all the good things in, but in doing that, bad things can’t get out either.

Are you struggling with keeping on track for a goal or feeling apathetic about a job or position? Relax. Live life with open hands. Let God deal you more than you could imagine.

 

 

Mind your fruits and veggies.

I am a fresh fruit and vegetable snob and am in disarray if I do not have any in my house. That being said, sometimes I buy too much   in an attempt to make certain that I am never without any. Recently I was out of one of the types of bell peppers I eat, so I trucked on over to Wal-Mart and mindlessly put them in the bag with the half eaten ones upon returning home.  On Monday and Wednesday, I have class from 9:00 am until 3:45 pm with no breaks, so I bring my lunch with me. When I was preparing it the night before, I was appalled to see that my new pepper I purchased had begun rotting from the inside and the half eaten ones were a little too slimy and ripe for my taste.

While I was bummed about my veggies, I was thinking more on the fact how this was a demonstration of a life lesson that some learn all too late.  The older peppers had begun to over ripen  without me realizing it because they still looked fine. When I placed the new pepper in the same bag, not only do fruit and veggie bags force products to ripen faster, but I was also exposing it to older products, which causes fresh produce to begin to rot, the severity depending on the item. (Thank you Dr. Hassle in freshman year Chemistry.)

You’re probably thinking, how can that possibly relate to my life? Easy. Who do you hang out with? Do you surround yourself with uplifting people who have the same values as you or do you spend time with people who are causing the first stages of rotting in your soul? Whether you like it or not, you are a mixture of the people you fill your life  with. You may think you’re “strong enough” to resist certain behaviors or lifestyles, but the truth is that the more you expose yourself to it, the easier it will be to succumb to their same principles.

These past few weeks in the Business School at Baylor, there has been an Ethics Forum. I have attended two meetings and the most recent one was Nancy Richards of First Preston HT. Her presentation was titled “Crossing the Rubicon.” The Rubicon is a small river in Northern Italy and is used in the previous statement by history buffs. There was a rule in Italy that if you fought battles outside the country, you could not come back in. Julius Caesar marched his troops over that river in North Italy, which is where it gets its reference. Though the Rubicon is tiny, crossing it has large effects. Today, “Crossing the Rubicon” is a metaphor of an act that once you start it, it cannot be taken back; even if you were to retreat, what happened would still cause blood. Well today, that blood is more theoretical than literal, but it can cause more loss than death in most cases.

Nancy discussed how she had to make ethical decisions in her business and gave many examples of how she could have easily crossed the Rubicon, but didn’t. In some cases. it caused her company monetary losses, but in the end, she came out better than she was before even though she left certain people or even business to her company, in the dust.

The decisions we make are directly related to our ethics, which is influenced by the people we put in our lives. In Layman’s terms, if you hang with the dogs, you’re gonna catch some fleas. Doing what’s right is not always the easiest path, but God blesses us when we obey Him. Harbor the fruits of the spirit, for they never go bad.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”           Matthew 7:15-20

 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:43-45

Peppermints and Cigarette Smoke.

Today marks a year since my granddaddy passed away. 365 days  may seem like a long time, but it feels like just yesterday that he was here on earth; however,  it’s so easy for crocodile tears to well up at the thought of events he would be at if he were still here.

This summer I lived in Little Rock, Arkansas,  with my Mimi. As I sang in FBCR Little Rock’s church choir that first Sunday I was in town, I glanced out into the audience, halfway expecting him to be there. It felt like I was swallowing a boll of cotton as I choked back sprigs of tears to sing How Great Thou Art.

My friend Molly and I always have talked about wanting to attend our own funeral. We thought it would be cool to see who would be there, what people said about us, and what kind of legacy we left. (A modern day George Bailey act, if you will.)  Perhaps we touched someone we hadn’t realized  or even hurt someone and didn’t think they’d show up, but they did.

My granddaddy, no doubt, left a legacy of laughter and hard work. He was a God-fearing man who was a wonderful example to all. My only hope is that I could leave just a tidbit of the legacy he left behind.  Remember to live and do so with purpose. I know tragedy is always around, but currently it seems like it is more than usual. For example, the Ledet family is proof that no matter your age,  you have a chance to touch people with what life you lived, no matter the length of years you were on this earth.

Live with purpose, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you touch people or leave a legacy. Living for Christ automatically gives you a legacy to leave. If you show His unconditional love to others and strive to be like Him, you are bound to make an impact on another’s life.

Life is precious; Cherish it.

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing.”

Proverbs 10:7